If you follow Arizona politics, you probably know that Senator John McCain made an appearance at the State Meeting of the Arizona Republican Party last Saturday. It was newsworthy because this is the same state party that censured McCain last year.
It was not without its drama – there were a few folks who booed very loudly and a handful who really showed “who is boss” by keeping their backs turned to McCain throughout his speech. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t be seen from the stage because they were way, way in the back corner.
McCain gave a passionate speech about the dangers we face in the world (Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.) and why the current Obama policy is failing to keep us safe.
At one point, someone yelled, “You’re a war mongrel!” Now, I’m guessing he meant “warmonger,” but, alas, either the adrenaline got to him, or he actually didn’t know what he was yelling.
Think about it: in a Republican meeting of State Committeemen (the very definition of “base Republicans”) someone is so out of touch with Republican principles and policy that they accuse a U.S. Senator, who was tortured for five years as a prisoner of war, of being a warmonger. For a second, I thought I was at an Occupy Wall Street rally.
Thankfully, the vast majority of attendees were cheering and applauding Sen. McCain and his speech – thus demonstrating that the critics of McCain were a distinct minority.
To his credit, State Party Chairman, Robert Graham, got up after McCain’s speech and admonished those who had shown complete disrespect. It was a moment of leadership that has defined the kind of Chairman Graham has been: fair-minded, following the rules, and urging unity. It’s no wonder Graham won a landslide re-election as Chairman, garnering nearly 80% of the vote.
Graham’s landslide victory is also a testament to an Arizona Republican Party that is excelling. Graham raised significant money for the 2014 cycle and made the party relevant again. No one can say that Republicans didn’t elect a strong conservative slate of statewide officers and a conservative legislature.
But let’s get back to McCain.
Despite some national groups calling him their number one target, I don’t believe Senator McCain will face a serious challenge – either in the primary or the general election in 2016. Here’s why:
- Obama’s foreign policy will continue to be a complete failure. There will be more terrorist attacks (like what happened in France) and some American lives might even be lost. From his post as the Senate Armed Services Chairman, Senator McCain will have ample opportunity to try to hold the Obama administration accountable for their failed foreign policy.
- Anyone who is thinking about mounting a challenge to McCain remembers what happened to JD Hayworth. It wasn’t pretty.
- 2016 is likely to be framed in the context of a national security election. If there is one thing that unifies the base of the Republican Party it is that we believe the first (and almost only) function of government is to “provide for the common defense.” If McCain is leading that charge, it will be hard for someone to get traction against him.
There are probably other reasons, but for now, a real challenge doesn’t seem to be shaping up.
A week and a half ago, the Chicago Bears’ Lamarr Houston suffered a season-ending injury as a result of a post-play celebration. Mr. Houston sacked the Patriots’ backup quarterback…while the Bears were losing by 25 points…in the fourth quarter. Aside from looking like an idiot, Houston now cannot do the job for which he is paid millions. In the coming weeks and months, Republicans risk committing the same error: rendering themselves incapable due to unnecessary and unwarranted celebrations.
Yes, Republicans won big this midterm – once all the dust settles they will have picked up at least nine seats in the Senate, adding at least 15 seats to their majority in the House, and will occupy 32 Governor’s seats. It was a blowout – primarily because the nation’s problems are big and our president incompetent. So while we cheer for the wave of wins, the reasons for the wins are not necessarily cause for celebration.
Abroad America’s influence diminishes. We’re weak, we lack resolve; we waffle on issues where we once stood firm. Our foes move in to fill the power vacuum and instability reigns.
At home, “mistakes” in Washington turn to scandals, which result in crises of confidence, giving way to partisan squabbling; rinse and repeat. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, the VA, the cycle seems endless. Meanwhile, too many Americans remain out of work, the economy remains feeble, the Affordable Care Act remains unaffordable and uncaring, and the American Dream slips farther out of reach.
Polling in the lead up to Election Day showed that a large majority of Americans think we’re headed in the wrong direction, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed 70% think our country is on the wrong track. And, more than half of Americans, 54% according to Gallup, disapprove of Obama. These voters hope, skeptically perhaps, that the GOP can fix it or at least stem the tide of failure.
In 2012, had voters known what they know today, they would have elected Mitt Romney and I firmly believe our nation would now be on the upswing. Thanks however to a media that seeks to create “a narrative” of the world it wants rather than reporting the facts, Americans went to the polls woefully under-informed about Obama’s true job performance.
In a free society, the truth eventually gets out. No matter what damage control sound bites liberal pundits spin our way— “the opposing party historically tends to win big in midterm elections, especially during a president’s second term,” seems to be the go-to line—Obama’s lies, cover-ups, mismanagement, and failures are the reason the GOP now controls both the House and Senate. Jovial or smug celebrations on our part would demonstrate to voters that Republicans aren’t up to the task of governing either.
So, before we start that victory dance, Republicans must recognize that Americans didn’t vote for us because they think we’re good, but because they think we cannot be worse. Let’s not prove them wrong. Skip the celebration. It’s time to govern.
Election Night 2014 ongoing updates.
(11:00 pm EST) – Networks have reversed their call for New Hampshire as Brown gains ground as votes continue to be counted.
Tillis is growing his lead over Sen. Hagan in North Carolina.
In Arizona – Ducey declared winner for Governor in Arizona. Republican Mark Brnovich, the cinderella story of Arizona politics this year, is leading Democrat Felicia Rotellini 53-47 in Attorney General race. Michelle Reagan leads Terry Goddard 52-48 for Secretary of State.
(10:00 pm EST) – Gardner has won the Senate race in Colorado. That is a HUGE win.
(9:30 pm EST) – South Dakota has been called for Mike Rounds – another pick up for the GOP march towards a Senate Majority. While the networks have called New Hampshire for Sen. Shaheen, it’s only a four point spread with 33% of precincts reporting. A little early.
Colorado has about 50% reporting and Gardner leads Sen. Udall by five.
Virginia continues to look very close – could be the story of the night.
Gov. Rick Scott appears to have overcome the challenge from Charlie Crist in Florida.
(8:30 pm EST) – Polls just closed in Arkansas and the race is already called for Tom Cotton – who defeated Sen. Mark Pryor. The wave continues.
(7:45 pm EST) – Polls have closed in Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. McConnell has been declared the winner in Kentucky, Capito wins West Virginia, Perdue led in the exit polls in Georgia, and exit polls in North Carolina showed the race tied.
Exits showed leads for the GOP in IA, CO, AR, AK, and KS.
If all that holds, GOP Senate majority is a certainty.
Political folks like me rely on a lot of different information when they try to prognosticate about elections. Money raised and spent, voter registration, historical turnout, polling, anecdotal stories from the campaign trail, data from voter ID calls, and door knocks – you get the picture.
And sometimes, it’s just a feeling. An instinct. A sense that there is something palpable happening.
I felt that way in 2010 with the House races. It seemed like every day there was new evidence that there was going to be a big, big wave.
Turns out, there was a huge wave.
Well, I’m feeling that way again. Granted, the wave seems smaller, or at least much later in breaking, and that might actually mean something. A late-breaking wave that hits closer to shore is more disruptive than one that breaks further out. So, this late breaking wave could be very disruptive.
Setting aside my gut instinct, here are some fundamental reasons Republicans are going to have a big win tomorrow night.
This is probably the most important indicator that Democrats are in trouble. The President is incredibly unpopular and voters will punish many Democrats on the ballot because of it.
Much better ground game on the right
There has been some serious investment by the RNC and GOP state parties as well as from conservative outside groups like Americans for Prosperity to staff field operations that are doing real outreach to low-propensity voters that will help off-set the built-in advantages of the Democrats.
Better use of technology
One of the things I harp on when people talk about using technology in politics is that all the technology in the world doesn’t do a bit of good unless you have the manpower to actually put it to use. Given that the conservative ground game is doing much better, there is some great use of technology that is helping the right close the gap with the left.
Early spending from outside groups
One of the things that most people have forgotten, since it feels like the campaign has gone on forever, is that there were some outside groups running issue ads against incumbent Democrat Senators in the spring… of last year!
This was meant to start to drive up the unfavorables of incumbents – and force the other side to spend money much earlier than they had planned. This strategy is paying off, because most of those incumbents are in grave danger of losing tomorrow.
So those are the fundamentals of what will happen tomorrow. Here is how I think it actually goes down in the Senate races.
Republicans will certainly win the following states:
Not as certain, but states I still think go Republican are:
We won’t know it tomorrow, because there will be a run-off, but the Republicans will win Louisiana in December.
Also, Republicans will hold their seats in Kentucky, Georgia and Kansas. We may have to wait until January for Republicans to win Georgia if it goes to a run-off. That means a net gain of 10 seats for the GOP.
And then there are the close, but not quite, seats – what I call the “what could have been” seats. The Republican candidates will finish much closer than expected in Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, and New Mexico. My guess is that Virginia could be as close as 2-3 points, with a very slim possibility that the Republican wins. The losses in Minnesota, Oregon and New Mexico will likely be by less than 6 points.
And, for the U.S. House, I am predicting a NET gain of 15-18 seats. Yes, bullish – but I think it’s that kind of year. It only takes a net of 9 seats for the Republicans to have their largest majority since 1946.
Now, we wait and see.
President Obama and his policies are very bad for the United States. As conservatives, we know that. Heck, most Americans believe it.
So when conservatives overreact to something Obama says, it makes other criticisms of him and his policies less impactful.
Case in point is a comment that Obama said a couple days ago about stay at home moms. The headline in the Weekly Standard blared: Obama on Moms Who Stay Home to Raise Kids: ‘That’s Not a Choice We Want Americans to Make’
Now, that certainly sounds outrageous. But is that actually what happened? Here is Obama’s quote on that point:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
My interpretation is that what Obama was trying to say was that moms (or dads) who choose to stay home with their kids should be stuck earning a lower wage later when they re-enter the workforce.
I generally agree with that. What I don’t want is government dictating that parents who leave the workforce to raise kids come back into the workforce at a certain wage or salary. That should be left up to market forces. And, if business owners are smart, they will take into account the skills, experience, and talent of parents re-entering the workforce.
A good treatment on this comes from Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist. She points out that moms who choose to stay at home recognize that their earning potential will be impacted in the future – and they still make the choice to stay at home.
At the same time, I’m struck by how shallow our discussion of parenting is. Of all the things to note about how parenting changes you, the craziest is the idea that the only thing that really matters is income. Yes, I traded income for more time with my children. And I still do.
And I’m the winner in this exchange, as are my children. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family with much happiness but not much in the banking account. I don’t know. But I learned from my parents that there are things far more valuable than cash money. Time with my children far exceeds any paycheck I’ve received (it may help that I’m a writer, admittedly). I treasure the moments I’ve had caring for them, watching them reach milestones, seeing them conquer obstacles, helping them learn musical instruments or how to read. I have never had a job — particularly some of the horrible office jobs I’ve had — that came close to the joy and fulfillment I’ve had with my daughters.
The bottom line for me is that Obama gives us plenty of things to criticize fairly. We don’t need to overreach to make the point that he’s been a terrible president and that the country is in worse shape know that in should be.
If anything, the results on Tuesday are going to prove that point in spades.
Republicans are going to have a good night next Tuesday, a very good night. And it will be, in large part, because President Obama is so unpopular. In the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, Obama’s fav/unfav among likely voters is at a dismal 36%-61%.
For the U.S. Senate, Republicans will win in West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Republicans will also win in North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado.
Mitch McConnell will win in Kentucky.
So without knowing what happens in either Louisiana or Georgia (both likely to go to run-offs), Republicans are a lock to retake the U.S. Senate.
In the U.S. House, Republicans will have a net gain of at least 10 seats – giving them the strongest majority since the 1940’s. Those will include wins by Andy Tobin in AZ-01 and Martha McSally in AZ-02.
In Arizona it will be a top-to-bottom sweep of statewide races. Doug Ducey will beat Fred DuVal by close to double digits, Michele Reagan will defeat Terry Goddard, Mark Brnovich will defeat Felicia Rotellini, Jeff DeWit is essentially already the next Treasurer, Diane Douglas will win as Superintendent of Public Instruction and Doug Little and Tom Forese will be the next Corporation Commissioners.
You doubt it’s a bad year for Democrats? Watch network news – and you will see no stories about how bad an election it will be for Democrats. Compare that to 2006, when Republicans were headed for a terrible night, and it was all over the networks for weeks on end. The silence is deafening.
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service informed the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means that they had “lost” nearly three years worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS official at the center of the scandal involving the IRS targeting of conservative and tea party groups, because her computer crashed. Naturally, many were skeptical of the claim given its questionable convenience.
Many also arrived at the logical conclusion that if the IRS had actually “lost” Lerner’s emails, then surely they would be able to recover them from the emails of other officials at the IRS that she was communicating with. Yet, today the IRS announced that it has also “lost” the emails of six other high-level officials at the center of the investigation into the suppression of conservative groups by the agency.
The Obama administration promised to be the most transparent administration in history, little did we know this would mean they could make things disappear entirely. Given the convenient details of the misplaced emails this is clearly not a computer problem, as the IRS claims. This is a fundamental failure of leadership at the highest levels and a betrayal of the nation’s trust. ‘It’s a glitch’ may as well be the 21st Century version of ‘I am not a crook.’
As Charles Krauthammer said, “Nixon was a piker to the Obama Administration when it comes to concealment, hiding, or pretending that they can’t find stuff.”
Think about it. Why didn’t Nixon use the excuse that the recording system crashed? Maybe he wasn’t as corrupt as our current administration.
The overly convenient and lousy excuses coming from the Obama administration are generally reserved for guilty adolescents and banana republics. It’s clear that the administration has moved from obstructing the activity of conservative and tea party groups to stonewalling Congress by whatever means necessary.
The rampant cover-up by the IRS of its targeting of conservatives is beyond outrage. If this were a Republican administration, Democrats would have already drawn up articles of impeachment. You doubt that? Democrats introduced six different impeachment resolutions during President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House. Republicans have introduced exactly zero impeachment resolutions against Obama.
I think it is past time for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the IRS from top to bottom. It’s clear that a deceitful administration will not police itself.
The kidnapping of more than 200 young girls by the terrorist group Boko Harem in Nigeria is horrific.
We can debate how we got to the point that this terrorist group was able to pull this off. We can, in part, blame Hillary Clinton, who, while she was Secretary of State, worked against listing Boko Harem as a terrorist group, despite strong evidence of their close ties to Al Qaeda.
We can also blame this administration’s general position on terrorism – or probably better said, lack of strong position against terrorism.
Case in point:
Seriously? The reaction by the greatest nation on earth to the horrific kidnapping of more than 200 young girls is a twitter hashtag? What, exactly did they expect to accomplish with a Twitter hashtag and a profile picture?
Even what the President said about it is incredibly disappointing:
“I have this remarkable title right now, the president of the United States,” Obama said, “And yet every day when I wake up, and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria — when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids.”
What Obama doesn’t seem to understand is that he has more than a “remarkable title” – he has remarkable responsibility that he is supposed to employ.
But, when you think about it, the vast majority of President Obama’s tenure has been more style than substance. It isn’t about doing something, it’s about projecting – expressing opinion rather than doing the hard work of affecting actual change.
In a word, our president is a slacktivist. Like so many other high-minded liberals, he thinks that tweeting something out, or creating a hashtag about an issue is actual activism. Well, it’s not.
It’s past time for this administration to understand that we can’t conduct foreign policy with a hashtag. #Seriously
Remember these words from President Obama? “Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
The foreign policy of the 1980’s brought down the Soviet Union, it would appear that Obama’s foreign policy is bringing it back.
We are fewer than two years past that debate and Russia has invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation. The Ukrainian people took to the street to demand freedom and democracy and to protest a government that allowed neither. When the government attempted to violently crush the demonstrations the people overthrew the government. As we know, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin however, contends: the government in Ukraine, the people’s government, is illegitimate because the leader, Yanukovych, was illegally overthrown; that Yanokuvych remains Ukraine’s legitimate leader; that Russia has a right to use military force in Ukraine because the ousted Yanukovych (the legitimate leader according to Russia) formally asked for Russian for assistance in quelling the revolt.
To which the President of the United States responded, “President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.” Well, there’s a strong statement from a powerful man.
In 1982, the USSR-controlled Polish government declared Solidarity, the first non-communist union in the Soviet Bloc, to be illegal. Ronald Reagan let the world know where America stood:
“I know Poland is a faraway country in Eastern Europe. Still, this action is a matter of profound concern to all the American people and to the free world… The Polish military leaders and their Soviet backers have shown that they will continue to trample upon the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the Polish people. America cannot stand idly by in the face of these latest threats of repression and acts of repression by the Polish Government…The Polish regime should understand that we’re prepared to take further steps as a result of this further repression in Poland. We are also consulting urgently with our allies on steps we might take jointly in response to this latest outrage… when anyone is denied freedom, then freedom for everyone is threatened. The struggle in the world today for the hearts and minds of mankind is based on one simple question: Is man born to be free, or slave? In country after country, people have long known the answer to that question. We are free by divine right. We are the masters of our fate, and we create governments for our convenience. Those who would have it otherwise commit a crime and a sin against God and man.”
Strangely, in his February 28 statement about events in Ukraine, Obama never uttered the word “freedom.” Instead, he said,
“Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future… we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe. It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people… the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The nation that once said big things, did big things, and led the world, now confronts Russian aggression with talk of “lawyers” and “people deserving the opportunity to determine own future.” The world perceives America as weak and perception is reality.
What happens when America is weak? The world is less safe. Syria crosses “red lines” with impunity, Iran and North Korea flex their muscles, Russia invades neighboring states, and al Qaeda does not—contrary to Obama’s 2012 campaign spin—run.
America has suffered terrorist attacks at home, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, and abroad, Benghazi—for which no one has been brought to justice. Are we safer today than when Obama took office?
No, we are not. Since our nation’s birth, the fundamental purpose of our government is to defend its people, to ensure our liberty. If Obama fails to perform this most basic purpose he should not pursue vast domestic undertakings like Obamacare. Because, if Obama cannot keep our nation free and safe, health care will be the least of our concerns.
The State of the Union has evolved into a national conversation on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up for a couple hours in ways rarely seen in politics. I did my duty by tweeting out snarky comments and posting on Facebook.
The best post-speech commentary came from National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
My Fellow Americans, the State of Our Union Is . . . Interminable
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The only part of the president’s State of the Union address that you need to read:
“I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program — a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again — and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”
Cory Remsburg is a Dagwood sandwich of courage, determination, inspiration, and all-around bad-assery.
The rest of the speech was interminable, meandering, shifting in tone, unfocused, and at least twice as long as it needed to be. In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The only thing worse than a boring State of the Union? Having three GOP responses. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did a fine job, but I don’t understand why Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul gave responses other than feeding their own egos.
The thing that mystifies me is why the response is not done with a live audience. One of the best GOP responses in recent years was Gov. Bob McDonnell when he delivered his response from the state capital of Virginia with a live audience. It made a world of difference on how the response played to viewers across the country. But no one has replicated that model since, and the responses have been mostly yawns.
I’m just glad it’s over.